Every child has a unique way of learning. Some may prefer watching over listening, others may favor reading than tactile activities. It is essential to know your child’s learning style so you can structure your study sessions accordingly (make it enjoyable and effective!) and stimulate better choices for your extracurricular bonding moments.
Does your child love to talk, sing, or dance? Does he/she like you to tell bedtime stories or does he/she prefer that you sing lullabies to put him/her to sleep? Can he/she easily remember a place you’ve been to last weekend?
Getting to know your child and understanding how they learn best can assist in developing your child’s utmost potential, leverage their abilities, and create a huge impact on their absolute performance.
So, what are the different learning styles?
We’ll focus on the 4 main learning styles based on Neil Fleming’s VARK list that consists of Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic.
Before we jump into it, it is also worth knowing that a child may have a principal style of learning but can also be a multimodal learner. This means that multiple senses are engaged during learning. Thus, they can possess more than one learning style.
- Is your child interested in objects around him/her?
- Does he/she enjoy illustrations or drawings in books?
- Does he/she have sharp memories?
- Does he/she enjoy watching shows, movies, or videos?
- Can your child easily recognize people you’ve met or places you’ve been before?
If you’ve answered yes in most of the questions, then your child is a visual learner!
Visual learners acquire their knowledge best by seeing. They’d rather see information presented visually such as graphs, charts, or maps, rather than in a written form. They are vigilant with people and objects around them. They also show interest in photographs, paintings, aesthetics, beauty, and preserve information from what they see.
Study tips for Visual learners:
- Use highlighters or colored pens to color code information
- Use post-its and sticky notes in organizing their notes
- Use of flashcards, infographics or pictures in studying
- Interpret notes into charts, graphs or maps
- Watch educational videos
Bonus tip: Visual learners should sit at the front of the class for better learning.
- Does your child like music and does he tend to sing along?
- Does he/she have the ability to listen well?
- Does he/she love talking and discussing with a person or in groups?
- Can your child notice a sound right away?
- Does your child tend to repeat words or phrases he/she has heard before?
If you’ve answered yes in most of the questions, then your child is an auditory learner!
Auditory learners love to learn by using their sense of hearing to gain information. Their listening skills are more developed than visual skills; hence, they memorize words better and faster. Lectures, discussions, and music are their favorite ways of storing information. They tend to ask questions before working on a task or activity, and they respond well to verbal instructions.
Study tips for Auditory learners:
- Use musical instruments, rhymes or a song when studying
- Podcasts, recordings and voice memos are very helpful
- Recite notes out loud
- Provide information through conversation with your child
- Encourage group discussions and sharing
Bonus tip: Auditory learners do well in a quiet place. Thus, avoid any noise that can distract them while studying.
- Does your child enjoy reading books?
- Does he/she like taking down notes while reading?
- Does he/she prefer handouts and lecture notes?
- Does your child enjoy making a list or writing down instructions to follow?
- Does your child like to write in his/her diary or journal?
If you’ve answered yes in most of the questions, then your child is a reading/writing learner!
This type of learning style is self-explanatory – they learn best from reading and writing. Their reading comprehension is above average; which means, they absorb knowledge best through text-based materials. Then, they write their own interpretation. They get a lot out of taking notes from what they read in books, lecture notes, handouts, presentation slides, or books.
Here are the study tips for Reading/Writing learners:
- A trip to the library for books, books, and more books!
- Use a written list of instructions
- Provide handouts, lecture notes, and text-based presentations
- Use re-read and re-writing technique
- Study in a quiet area that is free of distraction.
Bonus Tip: Take advantage of their reading comprehension skills and encourage them to do an advance reading of their lessons.
- Does your child like participating in activities?
- Does he/she love to touch and feel things to better understand these objects?
- Does your child not like sitting for a very long time?
- Does your child prefer physical activities?
- Does your child often talk with their hands?
If you’ve answered yes in most of the questions, then your child is a Kinesthetic learner!
Kinesthetic learners prefer performing the task rather than reading, writing, or watching. They absorb knowledge best by being in the action and doing hands-on problem-solving. This type of learner finds it difficult to sit for long hours while listening to lectures or while reading a book, as they need to move around frequently. Hence, they usually prefer studying while standing or walking as it improves their comprehension and retention.
Study tips for Kinesthetic learners:
- Use creative games or role-playing activities
- Encourage small movements while studying
- Organize field trips
- Build or design models
- Take short breaks in-between
Bonus Tip: Find a type of study space that can accommodate your kid’s particular need for movement or engagement. (e.g. standing desk or widely spaced study area)
- Laura Davison, How to Study if You’re A Reading/Writing Learner, June 2020
- Jacqui Murray, The VARK Model of Teaching Strategies
- Kendra Cherry, Overview of VARK Learning Styles, November 2019
- What Type of Learner is Your Child?, June 2018
- Fiona Baker, Learning styles in children, July 2017
- Molly Pennington, PhD, How to Identify Your Child’s Learning Style, January 2015